A German court this week reportedly denied an Iranian lesbian’s asylum petition on grounds that she had failed to prove that she couldn’t just return to Iran and act discreetly so as to avoid being persecuted.
Samira Ghorbani Danesh fled Iran in 2009 and has been living in a women’s shelter in northern Bavaria since.
She now has until the end of July to leave, Die Welt newspaper said on Thursday as the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees refused the 24-year-old asylum.
Danesh is appealing the decision after being told by the Bayreuth administrative court that “she was unable to make the danger she would face in Iran believable” and that she should return and live a “reserved lifestyle like other Iranian homosexuals.”
Yet in Iran, gay women are punished with 100 lashes — and can face the death penalty if convicted a fourth time.
Danesh, a qualified architect, fled Iran after a party she and other gay and lesbian friends were at was raided by police. While she was able to get away from the raid, many of the those in attendance, including her long-term girlfriend, were taken into custody. Danesh has not seen her girlfriend since.
Pink News reports that Danesh’s lawyers have won the chance to once again petition the court on Danesh’s behalf. They have also authored a letter, signed by a member of Germany’s parliament, Volker Beck, from the Green Party, that calls on officials to ensure that LGBT asylum cases are taken seriously.
Of course, press coverage of this case in fact works in Danesh’s favor because, if she wasn’t known to Iranian authorities prior to this court case, it is very likely that news about her will have reached authorities by now.
LGBT asylum applications have met with with a tepid reception throughout Europe, including in the United Kingdom, with judges appearing skeptical of the grave dangers that LGBT asylum seekers face should they be deported back to their home countries.
This has prompted the European Parliament to call for greater asylum protections, and in particular for LGBT applicants, to ensure that genuine cases are not overlooked.